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Frederick Engels 



Author of "Economics for Beginners,' 
"How the Gods Were Made'' Etc. 



P.O. Box 914, Chicago, HL 60690 


Copyright, 1946 
By Charles H. Kerr h Co. 



In presenting this pamphlet on the life and 
work of Frederick Engels we believe it will 
fill a need for a short outline of the activities 
iuid role of Engels, the close associate and col- 
laborator of Karl ^Mai-x, and about wiiom not 
enough is known, e\en by many who are more 
or less familiar with his writings. 

However, it was written with the idea of 
interesting others, those not yet acquainted 
with his excellent contributions to the modern 
working class movement, with the idea of stim- 
ulating interest and causing more to take up 
a study of his revolutionary writings, such as 
his Auti'Duhnng, or his Onyin of the Family, 
Private Property and the State, and his theo- 
retical work in general. 

The contents first appeared in the Prole- 
TARL\N News, September, October and Novem- 
ber, 1945. It was written on the occasion of 
the fiftieth anniversaiy of his death and the 
one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of 
his birth. 

As is here implied, this is but a short outline 
of Engels' life and work, a sort of introduction 
for those who desire to become better acquaint- 
ed with what he wrote and w^hat he did and 
with the hope that it will lead to a further and 
more extensive investigation of his life and 

The Publisher 


History records few examples of such last- 
ing friendship and intellectual collaboration as 
that which prevailed between Frederick Engels 
and Karl Marx. The gigantic figure of the 
latter has more or less overshadowed Engels. 
This is not because of a vast difference in their 
intellectual stature but because of their close- 
ness, and the interconnection of Engels* life- 
work with that of his great associate. He thor- 
roughly understood Marx and correctly evalu- 
ated his genius and historic role. If he was 
content to "play second fiddle/' as he expressed 
it, he fully realized that such was a pai-t of no 
mean proportions. 

The method of social analysis, the theoretical 
concepts and principles which characterize 
their joint work, rightfully bear the term 
Marxism. This tenn is inclusive of the bril- 
liant writings of Frederick Engels who ren- 
dered invaluable assistance to Marx, and who 
for twelve years after the death of his friend 
continued to contribute, on the same high in- 
tellectual plane, an immense share of their 

Frederick Engels was born at Baniien, in the 
German Rhineland, on the 28th of November, 
1820. Therefore, November 28, 1945, was the 
126th anniversaiy of his birih, and August 5, 
1945, was the 50th anniversai-v of hi.s death. He 

t) Frederick Engels 

was the elder son of Frederick Engeis, indus- 
trial capitalist, engaged in cotton spinning. 
Engels senior was a real, hard-headed thrifty 
capitalist and a devout Christian. At an early 
age, his now famous son began to express 
opposition to the traditional thought and ortho- 
dox piety, so prevalent then in the Rhineland. 
This annoyed his father and brought anxiety 
to his mother. 

The Engels family had been engaged in tex- 
tile manufacture for decades. Originally they 
had been farmers around Wuppertal, but later 
took up cloth making. In 1837, this capitalist 
cotton spinner, in partnership with two broth- 
ers by the name of Ermen, started a cotton- 
mill at Manchester, England. Later, in 1841, 
they opened mills at Barmen and Engelskir- 
chen, making use of the new machinery which 
had been invented in England. 

Young Frederick attended school at Barmen 
until fourteen years of age. Then he went to 
high school at Elberfeld, which adjoined Bar- 
men so closely that the name Barmen-Elberf eld 
was commonly used to include both towns. 
This boy, while still in his teens, was depressed 
by observing the poverty and misery which 
prevailed in their industrial community. He 
did not finish his schooling, probably due to 
his restlessness. At the age of seventeen he 
was taken into his father's office to be in- 

Frederick Exgki.s -7 

structed in commercial methods. But business 
held no attraction for him. Right from the 
start he disliked the "penny-pinching" ways 
of early capitalism, and usually referred to it 
als a "dog's life." 

Thus, as a young man Engels was in a state 
of rebellion against the narrow-mindedness of 
the community, and against the Christian yoke 
of his home life. His father was shrewd enough 
to recognize that his son had ability, if he 
could but break him to the ways of business, 
but their personal relations grew steadily 
worse. He was big and strong and full of 
energy. Therefore, despite the discipline and 
the drudgeiy he found time for much outdoor 
activity and a lot of reading. His studies did 
not meet with the approval of his business 
father. After about a year, at the age of 
eighteen, Frederick was sent to work as a clerk 
in an export office at Bremen. His new em- 
ployer was a man of similar character as his 
father, a strict business man. 

Engels' spirit was not broken by those ex- 
periences. On the contrary he got out and 
mixed with the younger people of Bremen and 
gave expression to his physical and mental 
faculties. He keenly indulged in his linguistic 
hobby by studying several languages, but the 
"dog's life" of business still oppressed him. 
His desire to become a writer found expres- 

8 Fbedebick Engbls 

sion in letter writing and short articles for the 
newspapers. In the seaport of Bremen there 
was more to be seen than he had ever experi- 
enced, but not all that he observed was pleas- 
ing to him. By this time he was taking an in- 
terest in philosophy, particularly the philoso- 
phical idealism of Hegel. 

The Hegelian school of philoso^Jhy had de- 
veloped a left-wing, the Young Hegelians, 
which was critical of the inflexibility of the 
older concepts. One of their number, David 
Frederick Strauss, in 1835, created a sensation 
in philosophical circles by his Life of Jesus, 
wherein he showed that the Bible and Christi- 
anity were the products of history, and not 
the inspired work of a god. 

This viewpoint came into conflict with 
HegeFs absolute idea, as applied to the State. 
If Christianity was a historical product, the 
outcome of social development and subject to 
historic changes, then the State, which Hegel 
had portrayed as the highest development of 
the human mind, the unfoldment of the abso- 
lute and eternal idea, also was a product of 
history, and subject to change. 

This forced the Young Hegelians to turn to 
politics. They began to break away from the 
central principle of Hegelianism, the absolute- 
ism of the idea itself. However, the chief merit 
of Hegelianism, its dialectic method of ana- 

Frederick Engels 9 

lysis, was retained. Hegel's teaching that noth- 
ing is constant, that the world is in a state of 
flux, that nothing is absolute, that all is rela- 
tive, had caught up with itself. His conception 
of the idea itself as absolute and eternal, stood 
exposed as a contradiction of his own teaching. 

*He Serves in the Army 

Frederick Engels read Strauss' Life of Jesus 
and was much impressed. In 1841, after about 
two years in Bremen he was confronted by the 
military requirements of the Prussian state. 
Each young man was required to take a year's 
training in the army, but, if one volunteered 
in advance, it was permissible to choose the 
branch of the service preferred. Engels decided 
upon the artillery, because it would take him 
to Berlin. 

He had a number of reasons for that course. 
First, it was a big city and the center of the 
German culture of that time, with which he 
desired to make closer contact. Second, he 
could spend a year away from the discipline 
of his father, and be free for that period from 
the "dog's life" of the business world. The 
discipline of the army seemed to have bothered 
him but little. The young soldier found time 
to meet and confer with kindred spirits. He 
associated with young men who, like himself, 
were in the process of breaking with the tra- 

10 Frederick Engels 

ditions of the past. To the press he wrote a 
series of articles, entitled Letters from Wup- 
pertal, which he signed F. Oswald. The natives 
of Wuppeital were embarrassed by "Oswald's" 
exposure of their way of life, and his criticism 
of their narrow provincialism. He also began 
to write along philosophical lines. 

In 1842, the Rheinische Zeitimg (Jounial of 
the Rhine) was launched by the liberal bour- 
geoisie of Cologne, with Karl Marx, a young 
Rhinelander (born at Treves, May 5, 1818), 
as its editor-in-chief. Marx w^as just twenty- 
four, but already recognized for his high schol- 
arship. The Zeitung was an expression of 
political opposition, but because of the rigid 
censorship of the press in Prussia its articles 
were often couched in philosophical language. 
By that means it probably survived a few 
months longer than if it had been more plain 
spoken. To this periodical, Engels had sent 
contributions. Later, on his way to England, he 
called at Cologne and met Marx, but they did 
not then find an affinity of purpose. Neither, 
it appears, w^s verj^ much impressed by the 

Early in 1843, the RheiniscJie Zeitung, and 
also the Hallische Jahrbucher, the latter edited 
by Arnold Ruge, were suppressed by the Prus- 
sian government. Mai'x left for France. It was 
there in 1844, when Marx was living in Paris, 

Frederick Engels 11 

and associated with Arnold Ruge in the pub- 
lishing of the Deutsch-Franzocsischen'Jahr' 
hucher (GeiTnan-French Annals), that Marx 
and Engels met and discovered that they had 
so much in common. By then they had both 
suiTOOunted the narrowness of Hegelianism. 

Goes to Live in England 

Engels had been living in Manchester, where 
his father had sent him to work in the office 
of the spinning mills of Engels and &men, 
the business there being managed by one of 
the Ermen brothers. The banishment to Man- 
chester was a further attempt of the elder 
Engels to fasten the business yoke upon his 
wajrward son, who gladly had agreed to such 
an escape from under the tyranny of the pater- 
nal roof. Manchester, and England in general, 
worked wonders upon Frederick Engels, but 
not in the ^^^y his father had planned it. To 
the Jahrhucher at Paris, he had sent a ''Critical 
Essay of Political Economy,'' the clarity and 
profoundity of which so astonished Marx that 
he wrote to Engels and suggested that when 
he would next be going home to Barmen that 
he come by way of Paris, so that they could 
become better acquainted. 

When Engels first sailed up the Thames 
toward London he was elated with the sight 
of the river traffic, and wrote that "all this is 

12 Frederick Engels 

so vast, so impressive, that a man cannot col- 
lect himself, but is lost in the marvel of Eng- 
land's greatness before he sets foot upon Eng- 
lish soil." About fifty years later, in 1892, he 
said of his early statement: "This applies to 
the time of the sailing vessels. The Thames 
now is a dreary collection of ugly steamers." 

At Manchester, because of his social posi- 
tion, the son of an industrial capitalist, Engels 
could have associated exclusively with the busi- 
ness people, but from the start, we find, he 
spent much time with the workers, exploring 
the industrial and slum districts of that great 
textile center of northern England. A young 
Irish girl, Maiy Burns, with whom he had 
become acquainted, was frequently his com- 
panion on those many excursions. Through her 
he had much personal contact with working 
people. Mary Burns was his comrade and com- 
panion for many years. Although no legal 
marriage ceremony was performed she kept 
house for him up to the time of her death in 

Engels* first real work was a book on The 
Condition of the Working Class in England in 
18Hy in which he had arrived at what he and 
Marx later called the Materialist Conception of 
History, although in an elementary form. This 
book was published in German in 1845, but 
was not translated into English until 1892. 

Frederick En gels 13 

Engels was the first to attempt a description 
of the plight of England's new industrial slave 
class, the proletariat, the product of the ma- 
chine age. It was a vigorous exposure of Brit- 
ish capitalism, in which he held up to scorn 
the rich captains of industry who sought, 
through philantrophy and various forms of 
charity, to wash their hands of the respon- 
sibility for the appalling slums of all the large 
cities, with their starvation, filth and crime. 
Ill clothed and ill fed, England's wage workers 
were crowded into houses whose dilapidated 
condition often beggared description. Such 
were the conditions Engels found in proud, 
progressive England, "the workshop of the 
world," as the capitalists liked to call it. 

In 1844, he spoke of the ''social war," and 
did not draw class lines so sharply as he and 
Marx did later in the Communist Manifesto 
of 1848. Each individual, he contended, was in 
conflict with everyone else, yet he saw that 
capitalism was the main cause, that the owners 
of the new industrial machinery were en- 
riched themselves, while their workers could 
hardly keep their heads above water when they 
had jobs, and were economically submerged 
when unemployed. 

It was the period in which the great Liberal 
Pariy was born, and which posed as the van- 
guard of social progress. It was lead by men 


who expounded what was sometimes called the 
"Manchester school" of political economy. 
Those political leaders pretended that the re- 
forms they sought were intended to benefit the 
working class, but the young German from 
Barmen could clearly see through their politi- 
cal schemes. He wrote: "The English bour- 
geoisie is charitable out of self-interest ; it gives 
nothing outright, but regards its gifts as a 
business matter " * * they continue to shriek 
to the workingman that it is purely for the 
sake of the starving millions that the rich 
members of the Liberal Party pour hundreds 
and thousands of pounds into the treasuiy of 
the Anti-Corn Law League, while everyone 
knows that they are only sending the butter 
after the cheese, that they calculate upon earn- 
ing it all back in the first ten years after the 
repeal of the Corn Laws.'' 

While in this work Engels expressed many 
concepts which he and Marx later clarified, 
the astonishing thing is that he had already 
grasped so much, and saw social conditions so 
clearly. Also, there can be found terminology 
which later became familiar to millions of the 
world's workers through the pages of the 
Communist Manifesto. 

Following his meeting with Marx in 1844, 
Engels spent several years on the Continent, 
in France, Belgium and Germany. He, for p^ 

Frederick Engels 15 

period, shook himself free from the business 
world and actively engaged in the working 
class movement and he took part in the Revo- 
lution of 1848, escaping into Switzerland when 
it became obvious that the workers were de- 
feated and that the counter-revolution had 

The more one studies Marxism, the more one 
finds Frederick Engels. At Paris they had 
agi-eed to collaborate along socialist lines, but 
they had not then worked out their fundamen- 
tal principles of Scientific Socialism. Their at- 
tacks were still centered upon the shortcomings 
of the Hegelian philosophy, which was then, 
after the death of Hegel, in the stage known 
as Neo-Hegelian philosophy. To a considerable 
extent the philosophy retained its old contra- 
diction, recognition of the relativity of all 
things with the exception of the idea which 
was regarded as absolute. 

In 1841 Ludwig Feuerbach of Bavaria, a dis- 
ciple of Hegel, published his Dds Wesen des 
Christentunis (The Essence of Christianity). 
This work had greatly affected the young 
Hegelians. For Engels, it finished his vague 
belief in the supernatural, and carried him 
beyond idealism. Toward the end of his life, in 
1888, he wrote of this experience in his Ljid- 
wig Feuerbach, and the end of Classical Ger- 
man Philosophy: "With one blow it smashed 

16 Frederick Engels 

the contradiction and, without evasion, placed 
materialism back upon the throne. Nature 
exists independently of all philosophies. It is 
the foundation upon which we human beings, 
ourselves products of nature, are developed. 
Outside of man and nature nothing exists, and 
the higher beings, which our religious imag- 
inations have created, are, in essence, only the 
fantastic reflections of our individual selves. 

"The spell was broken. The 'system' was ex- 
ploded and discarded. The contradiction, shown 
to have existed only in our minds, was solved. 
One must himself have experienced the ele- 
vating effect of this book to get a full idea of 
it. ITie enthusiasm was universal, we were all 
for the moment followers of Feuerbach. How 
enthusiastically Marx greeted the new point of 
view and how much he was influenced by it — 
in spite of all critical reservations — one may 
read in The Holy Family/' 

This book which bore Engels* name as co- 
author was mostly the work of Marx, although 
its contents were in substance what they had 
jointly arrived at. He was displeased that his 
name should appear on a book of which he had 
written so little, and also at the title. The Holy 
Family, as a title, was a fling at the brothers 
Bauer, who were unable to make a clean break 
with Hegelian idealism. Its real title was to 
have been A Critique of Critical Critique, The 

Frederick Engels 17 

publisher, it appears, made use of what was to 
have been, at most, a sub-title. 

A work in which Marx and Engels did col- 
laborate fully was The German Ideology, It 
was not published during their lifetime. Their 
object was to portray their new concept of 
things in general, their dialectic approach to 
histoiy from the new basis of materialism, in 
other words, historical materialism. Engels 
says of it: "The design was carried out in the 
foiTTi of a criticism of post-Hegelian philoso- 
phy." * * * "We postponed the publication of 
the manuscript indefinitely, all the more will- 
ingly, as we had attained our main object, an 
understanding of our own position." 

While living in Brussels in 1847, Marx pub- 
lished his Poverty of Philosophy, which was a 
scathing exposure of the shallowness of the 
French socialist Proudhon, the author of a 
work on The Philosophy of Poverty. It was 
written in French. Engels wrote an introduc- 
tion to the English translation of this book, 
which did not appear until 1884, after the 
death of Mai^x. 

Engels lived in Brussels for a time. He went 
there in 1845 to again get away from the "dog's 
life" at Barmen. He had made some public 
addresses and attracted the attention of the 
police. His family feared that he might be 
arrested, and to avoid scandal at home, he 

18 Frederick Engels 

gladly consented to disappear into Belgium, 
where he could be with Marx and others whose 
company was more congenial. 

The Break With Liberalism 

It was during their stay in Brussels, follow- 
ing Marx's expulsion from France, that he and 
Engels arrived at the conclusion that the future 
belonged to the working class, that the modern 
proletariat was destined by historical develop- 
ment to take political power, and become the 
directive force in society. It was this conclu- 
sion which caused them to break their last ties 
with bourgeois liberalism, and to turn defi- 
nitely to the working class, in whose midst they 
remained and worked until the time of their 

Their first steps, taken in harmony with this 
decision, was the development of a Communist 
Correspondence Committee, which in 1847 be- 
gan to wield some influence. In this work En- 
gels played a substantial role, making the nec- 
essary contacts with the most advanced sec- 
tions of the working class in a number of 
countries. A communist secret society, with 
revolutionary aims, was already in existence. 
This was the League of the Just, It had genu- 
ine proletarian roots, especially within the 
ranks of the German workers. Engels had be- 
come friendly with members of the League 

Frederick En gels 19 

some years earlier, but did not join because he 
disliked its rather crude principles. Both he 
and Marx believed that its underground char- 
acter prevented it from attracting substantial 
numbers of workers, and tended to make it 

Now that they had concluded that a substan- 
tial organization w^as necessaiy, with periodi- 
cals expressive of communist ideas, their next 
step was to try to unite with this revolutionary 
vanguard and to work out a correct program, 
and publicly proclaim their aims and objec- 
tives. Thus, the C(ytnmunist Manifesto came 
into being. They both becaane members of the 
League of the Just, with the understanding 
that the supporters of the Communist Corre- 
spondence Committee would join and that a 
scientific program would be worked out. Its 
name was changed to the Communist League. 

The first conference was held in London in 
June, 1847. Engels was present, but not Marx. 
In November of the same year another confer- 
ence was held in London. They were both pres- 
ent and to them was delegated the work of 
completing the writing of the program, based 
upon the recognized principles which had 
brought the gathering together, and upon 
which the conference had elaborated. That is 
why Marx and Engels wrote: "To this end, 
Communists of various nationalities have as- 

20 Frederick Engels 

sembled in London, and sketched the following 
manifesto, to be published in the English, 
French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish 

Therefore, the organization was interna- 
tional in character from the start, and the 
Manifesto of the Communist Party, written by 
Marx and Engels, provided the new party with 
an exceedingly advanced program. It wa& 
ready for publication, early in 1848, just prior 
to the outbreak of the revolution which shook 
western Europe, especially France, Austria and 
Germany, in that "mad year," although it in 
no way influenced the course of that struggle. 

The Communist Manifesto 

This famous manifesto was designed as a 
programmatic guide for the working class, and 
as an open declaration of Communist prin- 
ciples. It has been translated into practically 
all languages, and today is the most univer- 
sally recognized program of the world's 

The starting point of the "Manifesto" was 
a proclamation of a new approach to history, 
a new method of historical analysis. "The 
history of all hitherto existing society is the 
history of class struggles," it said. 

In its outline sketch of world history, and 
especially the bourgeois epoch, it stresses the 

Frederick Engels 21 

changes in the mode of production and ex- 
change as the most dynamic factor, and as- 
serts the chief characteristic of the modern 
capitalist area, the simplification of the class 
struggle, as follows : "The modern bourgeois 
society that has sprouted from the ruins of 
feudal society, has not done away with class 
antagonisms. It has but established new 
forms of struggle in place of the old ones." 

"Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, 
possesses, however, this distinctive feature ; 
it has simplified the class antagonisms. So- 
ciety as a whole is more and more splitting 
up into two great hostile camps, into two 
great classes directly facing each other: 
Bourgeoisie and Proletariat." 

And further: "The discovery of America, 
the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh 
ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East- 
Indian and Chinese markets, the colonization 
of America, trade with the colonies, the in- 
crease in the means of exchange and in com- 
modities, generally, gave to commerce, to 
navigation, to industry, an impulse never be- 
fore known, and thereby, to the revolutionary 
element in the tottering feudal society, a 
rapid development." 

The "Manifesto" goes on to trace the po- 
litical consequences of this great economic 
advance of the capitalist class. The indus- 

22 Frederick Engels 

trial revolution, with its steam propulsion, 
the conquest of the world market and the 
transformation of backward nations into 
modern industrial ones, and how, on pain of 
death for the individual business man, com- 
petition forces the capitalists to constantly 
revolutionize their instruments of production. 
And, what this does to the more backward 
nations is eloquently described — "The bour- 
geoisie, by the rapid improvement of all in- 
struments of production, by the immensely 
facilitated means of communication, draws 
all, even the most barbarian, nations into 
civilization. The cheap prices of its com- 
modities are the heavy artillery with which 
it batters down all Chinese w^alls, with which 
it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate 
hatred of foreigners to capitulate." 

The con*esponding political development 
of the capitalist class is traced until, it "has 
conquered for itself, in the modern represen- 
tative State, exclusive political sway. The exec- 
utive of the modem State is but a committee 
for managing the common affairs of the 
whole bourgeoisie." The real purpose of a 
Parliament (or a Congress) is here laid bare. 

The effect of capitalist development upon 
the working class is ably set forth. The 
"Manifesto" shows how, as a result of inner 
struggles among the property owners them- 

Frkdebick Engkls 23 

selves, they drag the working class mto the 
political arena, and thus provide the workei-s 
with the means of taking independent polit- 
ical action. Says the '^Manifesto" : "The 
weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled 
feudalism to the ground are now turned 
against the bourgeoisie themselves. But not 
only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons 
that bring death to itself; it has also called 
into existence the men who are to wield those 
weapons — the modern working class — the 
proletarians." And again : * * * "What the 
bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, 
are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the 
victory of the pi*oletariat are equally inevi- 

The concluding injunction of the "Mani- 
festo," its clarion call to the world's workers, 
is known to millions, many of whom have 
never read the "Manifesto," "The proletar- 
ians have nothing to lose but their chains. 
They have a world to win. Working men of 
all countnes, unite!" 

Engels' part in the "Communist Manifesto" 
is best described by himself. In an introduc- 
tion to an edition published in January, 1888, 
five years after the death of Marx, he says : 
"The 'Manifesto' being our joint production, 
I consider myself bound to state that the 
fundamental proposition which forms its nu- 

24 Frederick Engels 

cleus, belongs to Marx. That proposition is : 
that in every historical epoch, the prevailing 
mode of economic production and exchange, 
and the social organization necessarily fol- 
lowing from it, form the basis upon which is 
built up, and from which alone can be e^;- 
plained, the political and intellectual history 
of that epoch ; that consequently the whole 
history of mankind (since the dissolution of 
primitive tribal society, holding land in com- 
mon ownership) has been a history of class 
struggles, contests between exploiting and 
exploited, ruling and oppressed classes ; that 
the history of these class struggles forms a 
series of evolution in which, nowadays, a 
stage has been reached where the exploited 
and oppressed class — the proletariat — cannot 
attain its emancipation from the sway of the 
exploiting ruling class — the bourgeoisie — 
without, at the same time, and once and for 
all, emancipating society at large from all ex- 
ploitation, oppression, class distinctions and 
class struggles. 

"This proposition which, in my opinion, is 
destined to do for history what Darwin's 
theory has done for biology, we, both of us, 
had been gradually approaching for some 
years before 1845. How far I had independ- 
ently progressed towards it, is best shown by 
my 'Conditions of the Working Class in Eng- 

Frederick Engels 26 

land' (1844). But when I again met Marx 
at Brussels, in spring, 1845, he had it ready 
worked out, and put it before me, in terms 
almost as clear as those in which I have 
stated here." 

The Post-Revolutionary Period 

When the counter-revolution had triumphed 
in western Europe, large numbers of workers 
left those countries to escape the reaction. 
This was especially true of the German work- 
ers who came to the United States in 1849, 
and all through the fifties. Gold had been 
discovered in California, and between that 
and the crushing of the European revolution, 
Marx and Engels came to the conclusion that 
capitalism was due for great expansion, and 
the proletarian movement for a period of 

How long this period would last they did 
not know. As a matter of fact it lasted, in 
the main, for about 20 years, until the out- 
break of the Franco-Prussian War,- and the 
Commune of Paris with which it culminated. 

Engels had returned to the business world 
which he so much detested. Marx and his 
family had moved to London in the summer 
of 1849, when the French government in- 
formed them that they must leave Paris. 
They realized that while Marx would have 

26 Frederick Engels 

the opportunity, in London, to devote his time 
to his theoretical work, that he and his fam- 
ily would also be faced with poverty, the 
common lot of most of Europe's revolutionary 
refugees who took shelter in the comparative 
safety of England in those days. 

It had been agreed upon between the two 
men that one of them must spend his entire 
life in research and writing for the revolu- 
tionary movement. Marx was the one who 
undertook the task. He was the most suit- 
able for the work, but he had a family to 
maintain. Therefore, Engels undertook to 
render all the financial aid possible to their 
joint enterprise. Back in Manchester, he 
worked with a will and sent all the cash he 
could spare, but his father still held the purse 

The years of poverty and suffering the 
Marx family endured in London were also 
years of joy, according to the testimony of 
Wilhelm Liebknecht, who spent some years 
of exile in London. Engels visited them often. 
He contributed much to Marx's theoretical 
work, especially to his Capital, for which he 
provided industrial information, statistics and 
such, and after the death of Marx he edited 
the manuscript which compose volumes H and 
ni of Capital, 

However, it must not be imagined that Marx 

Frederick F^ngels 27 

and Engels used their time exclusively for 
theoretical work. On the contrary, they were 
exceedingly active in practical organizational 

When Engels first arnved in England he 
took steps to become acquainted with the lead- 
ers of the first political movement of the 
modern working class, the Chartists, and with 
some of them he maintained lasting friend- 
ship, especially George Julian Harney, the edi- 
tor of The Northern Star, a pai>er for which 
Engels occasionally wrote. 

From the time of the writing of the Corn- 
munist Manifesto they saw the need for inter- 
national cooperation of the vanguard organiza- 
tion of the workers of the different nations, 
but throughout the fifties, during the worst 
period of the reaction, they were just able to 
hold their contact and increase their influence 
with various groups in different countries. 

The International 

It was not until the sixties that they were 
able to launch their great organizational pro- 
ject which was intended as a permanent fight- 
ing force for the world's workei*s. This was 
the International Workingmen's Association, 
now commonly called The First International. 
It was given its start at a public meeting held 
in St. Martin's Hall, London, on September 28, 

28 Frederick Engels 

1864, but its form was not worked out until a 
year later, at its London Conference (first in- 
tended to be held at Brussels), September 25 
to 29, 1865. 

For some years there was developing much 
social unrest, labor was stirred by certain 
happenings. There was considerable reaction, 
especially in Britain, from the effects of the 
Crimean War, with its blunders and sufferings, 
and from the crisis which arose in the cotton 
industry due to its supply being shut off by the 
American Civil War. 

These were the objective conditions when the 
International was launched. But what was ex- 
pected of this organization did not fully mat- 
erialize. It accomplished much but its perman- 
ency was killed by internal conflict between 
different factions which composed its ranks, 
chiefly the clashes between the petty-bourgeois 
ideas of the Anarchists and the proletarian 
concepts of the Marxists. 

The General Council had its headquarters in 
London, and workers of various nationalities 
made up its membership. In July, 1876, the 
International Workingmen's Association was 
officially dissolved at Philadelphia. Its main 
office had been transferred to America with 
the object of preventing its falling into the 
hands of the Anarchist elements* It was partly 
the apathy of the working class, but mainly 

Frederick Engels 29 

the internal quarrels which brought about its 

The First International, despite its short- 
comings, had lasting and beneficial effects for 
the world's workers. It paved the way for 
others, which lasted longer and accomplished 
more, especially keeping alive the principle of 
international working class solidarity. 

Engels, in a letter to Frederick Sorge, the 
secretary of the I. W. A., after it was moved 
to America, wrote: *'For ten years, the Inter- 
national Workingmen's Association dominated 
European histoiy in one of its aspects, that 
which looks to the future. It can be proud of 
its achievements. ... I think that the next 
International, after Marx's writings have ex- 
ercised their influence for a few years more, 
will be definitely communist." Engels, how- 
ever, was wrong in his prognosis. The Second 
International brought into being in 1889, 
turned away from Marxism. It gave a certain 
amount of lip-service to it, but in the main it 
turned its back upon revolutionary communism 
and adopted capitalist-reformism, and "gradu- 
alism," and most of its sections reverted to 
nationalism upon the outbreak of World War I. 

Beginning in 1852, Marx wrote articles for 
the New York THhune for about ten years. For 
those articles he received payment, but not of 
a very remunerative sort. Without the aid of 

30 Fbederick Engels 

Engels his income would have been entirely in- 
adequate, as it was he was continually in debt. 
Many of the THbune articles, written at first 
by Marx in Geiman, were translated into Eng- 
lish by Engels and quite a number were written 
entirely by him when Marx was ill, or too busy 
with other work. 

Engels* Revolutionary Activity 

In addition to his cotton spinning business, 
he found time to carry on an extensive cor- 
respondence with active leaders of the revo- 
lutionaiy movement in several countries, and 
to respond to their many demands for advice. 
In that relation Engels wrote what was un- 
doubtedly his greatest work. It was a request 
by his friends in Germany to leply to one 
Eugen Duhring, and entitled Herr Eugen Duh- 
ring's Revolution in Science, better known as 
the Anti'Duhnng, In the late sixties, Duhring 
began to forge ahead as a writer on social 
questions. Then he announced his conversion 
to Socialism, but to his own conceptions of 
socialism. Being a scholar he was able to write 
voluminously and he won an extensive follow- 
ing among the German socialists, many of 
whom thought his ideas an advance from Marx- 
ism. Engels hated to undertake the work of 
replying because it involved writing so much 
in order to follow Duhring into the many 

Frederick Engels 31 

fields of knowledge, but once commenced, Eng- 
els did such a thorough job, that the reply to 
Duhring turned out to be an extensive treatize 
on modern socialism, that is, Marxism. 

The Anti'Dnhring has been translated into 
many languages, and countless volumes have 
been circulated. Next to Marx's Capital, it 
ranks as the greatest fundamental work on 
modern socialism. Three chapters taken from 
the work and published under the title Social- 
ism, Utopian and Scientific, have met with a 
phenomenal circulation in many languages. 

Engels says of his writing of Anti- Duhring : 
"I had to treat of all and every possible subject, 
from the concepts of time and space to bime- 
tallism ; from the eternity of matter and motion 
to the perishable nature of moral ideas; from 
Darwin's natural selection to the education of 
youth in a future society. Anyhow, the system- 
atic comprehensiveness of my opponent gave 
me the opportunity^ of developing, in opposition 
to him, and in a more connected foim than had 
previously been done, the view^s held by Mai-x 
and myself on this great variety of subjects. 
And that was the principle reason which made 
me undertake this otherwise ungrateful task." 

He w^as, more or less, goaded into writing 
his great book. The pronounced drift away 
from what Marxism prevailed in the Social 
Democratic party of Germany, and his friends. 

32 Frederick Engels 

knowing that he was most fitted for the work, 
gave him no rest. The work appeared in 
Vorwarts in installments, commencing in 1876. 
This effort, and subsequent ones, to put the 
German party upon a Marxian basis failed, 
but Anti-Duliring was what the name implied, 
it finished the influence of Duhring. 

However, the great merit of his book is its 
complete explanation of the principles of mo- 
dern socialism. It has had a tremendous in- 
fluence upon countless numbers of students of 
Marxism throughout the whole world. 

Toward the end of 1870, Engels, who had 
sold his interest in the cotton spinning business 
at Manchester, went to reside in London. There- 
fore, for the last thirteen years of Marx's life 
the friends were closer than ever, and they 
were continually visited by the leaders of the 
movement of the various countries of Europe 
who conferred at length upon the many poli- 
tical problems which confronted them, and 
sought to profit from their vast experience and 
profound theoretical knowledge. 

After the death of Marx, the work of Engels 
was not lessened, if anything it increased, but 
being economically independent, and having 
great endurance, he worked with a will and 
accomplished far more than he actually realized. 
When speaking at the graveside of Marx he 
said: "His name and his work will endure 

Frederick Engels 3d 

throughout the ages," he probably did not 
realize that his name and work would endure 
along with that of Marx, because it is an inte- 
gral part of that far reaching, world-shaking 
system of revolutionary thought and action, 
known the world over as Marxism. 

In addition to the editing and preparing for 
publication of Capital, volumes II and III, 
Engels found time to write his ''Feuerhach 
(1888), and his famous book on The Origin of 
the Family; Pnvate Property and the State, 
which by most Marxians is considered next in 
importance to his Anti-Duhring, This splendid 
book is based upon the great ethnological dis- 
coveries of the American anthropologist, Lewis 
Heniy Morgan, who in his most famous work 
Ancient Society (1877) had provided for the 
first time, as Engels expressed it, through his 
"finding in the sexual organizations of the 
North American Indian the key that opens all 
the unfathomable riddles of the most ancient 
Greek, Roman and Gennan history. His book 
is is not the work of a short day. For more 
than forty years he grappled with the subject, 
until he mastered it fully. Therefore his work 
is one of the few epochal publications of our 

Engels was generous in more respects than 
one. He never withheld credit from others, 
wherever it was due, although he was capable 

yA Frederick Engels 

of a very healthy hatred for those who by 
their behavior had earned it. In his preface 
to the first edition of his Origin of the Family, 
he gives Morgan credit for independently, al- 
though unconsciously, discovering the Materia- 
list Conception of History. He writes : "It was 
no less a man than Karl Marx who had re- 
served to himself the privilege of displaying 
the results of Morgan's investigations in con- 
nection with his own materialist conception of 
history — which I might call ours within cer- 
tain limits. He wished thus to elucidate the full 
meaning of this conception. For in America, 
Morgan had, in a manner, discovered anew the 
materialist conception of history, originated 
by Marx forty years ago." 

The Origin of the Family is not only an ex- 
cellent introduction to a direct study of Mor- 
gan's Ancient Society, its greater merit is its 
tracing of the rise of the State in the Greek 
and Roman civilizations, and among the Ger- 
mans. His comments upon the modem state, 
especially in its capitalist, parliamentary form, 
have been exceedingly helpful to the working 
class in its approach to political action. Lenin 
in his polemical writing quoted from Engels' 
works continually. Engels writes : "The pos- 
sessing class rules directly through universal 
suffrage. For as long as the oppressed class, 
in this case the proletariat, is not ripe for its 


economic emancipation, just so long will its 
majority regard the existing order of society 
as the only one possible, and fonn the tail, the 
extreme left wing, of the capitalist class. But 
the more the proletariat matures toward its 
self-emancipation, the more does it constitute 
itself as a separate class and elect its own 
representatives in place of the capitalists. Un- 
versal suffrage is the gauge of the maturity 
of the working class. It can and will never 
be anything else but that in the modern state. 
But that is sufficient. On the day when the 
thermometer of universal suffrage reaches its 
boiling point among the laborers, they as well 
as the capitalists will know what to do." 

He concludes that, **We are now rapidly 
approching a stage of evolution in production, 
in which the existence of classes has not only 
ceased to be a necessity, but becomes a positive 
fetter on production. Hence these classes must 
fall as inevitably as they arose. The state must 
irrevocably fall with them. The society that is 
to reorganize production on the basis of a free 
and equal association of producers, will trans- 
fer the machineiy of the state w^here it will 
then belong; into the Museum of Antiquities 
by the side of the spinning wheel and the 
bronze axe." 

As a writer, Engels had the ability to greatly 
simplify difficult questions and reduce them to 

36 Frederick Engels 

concrete form. In his Socialism, Utopian and 
Scientific, he not only traces the history of so- 
cialism from its Utopian to its scientific stage, 
but he explains in simple language what is usu- 
ally regarded as incomprehensible philosoph- 
ical questions. 

In no other work can we find so clear an ex- 
planation of the difference between idealism 
and materialism, between the metaphysical and 
dialectic approach to common everyday matters 
such as liberty, justice, reason, etc. For those 
seeking a simple explanation of the materialist 
conception of history, his chapter three is un- 
surpassed, and likewise for an understanding 
of the difference between socialism and state 

His introduction to an edition printed in 
April, 1892, is an excellent outline of material- 
ist thought, what he calls historical material- 

Before Marx published his volume I of 
Capital he had already written this entire 
work, but in rough draft form. Betw^een 1867 
and the time of his death in 1883 he worked 
at revising and preparing the balance of his 
material for the volumes which were to follow, 
but he was unable, through illness, to whip 
them into final form for publication. 

From 1883 to 1894 Engels worked upon the 
manuscripts, editing and preparing them for 

Frederick ExVgki.s 37 

the publisher. Volume II made its appearance, 
in GeiTiian, of course, in May, 1885, and Vol- 
ume III in October, 1894. There was enough 
material left over for a fourth volume, but 
Engels realized he would not be able to com- 
plete it. This latter material he turned over 
to Karl Kautsky, then editor of Die Neiie Zeit, 
and personally explained to him its substance 
and how it should be put into final form as 
Volume IV of Capital. Kautsky apparently 
was unable to carry out that request, but used 
the material as the basis of his work on Theo- 
Hes of Sui^his Value. This latter, of course, 
was not published until long after the death of 
Engels, and is not yet translated into English. 

Some people who seemingly failed to com- 
prehend the interrelation of Marx and Engels' 
works have contended that Marx only wrote 
Volume I, that Volumes II and II were written 
by Frederick Engels, and that Mai'x only left 
behind a lot of incoherent notes. Such conten- 
tions are untrue and very stupid. They usu- 
ally spring from faulty understanding of the 
contents of Volume I, and the belief that the 
latter volumes contradicted the thesis laid 
down in the first. They fail to see the con- 
tinuity and completion of the thesis in the 
latter volumes. 

Engels was too honest to write whole vol- 
umes of his ov.'n and pass them off as the work 

38 Frehderick Engels 

of another, even that of his closest friend. But 
supposing the charges were true, has any man 
ever lived who was more competent to write 
on this great science in the spirit and with the 
understanding of Marx's economic work? 

In his preface to Volume II, after an expla- 
nation of the state in which Marx left the 
manuscripts, Engels writes : "I have been con- 
tent to intei*pret these manuscripts as literally 
as possible, changing the style only in places 
where Mai*x would have changed it himself 
and interpolating explanatory sentences or 
connecting statements only where this was in- 
dispensable, and where the meaning was so 
clear that there could be no doubt of the cor- 
rectness of my interpretation. Sentences which 
seemed in the least ambiguous were preferably 
reprinted literally. The passages which I have 
remodeled or interpolated cover barely ten 
pages in print, and concern mainly matters of 
form." And in his preface to Volume III he 
makes a similar statement — "At last I have the 
pleasure of making public this third volume of 
the main work of Marx, the closing part of his 
economic theories. When I published the sec- 
ond volume in 1885, I thought that the third 
would probably offer only technical difficul- 
ties, with the exception of a few very impor- 
tant sections. This turned out to be so. But 
that these exceptional sections, which repre- 

FfU!3)i3ircK Engels 39 

sent the most valuable parts of the entire work, 
would give me as much trouble as they did, 1 
could not foresee at that time any more than 
I anticipated the other obstacles, which retard- 
ed the completion of the work to such an ex- 

Not only have attempts been made to mis- 
represent Engels' work upon Marx's Capital, 
but also to represent him, especially in his 
latter years, as a sort of peaceful social-democ- 
ratic parliamentar>' revolutionist, a social 
"gradualist." Engels undoubtedly erred in his 
judgment of the G^i-man Social Democratic 
party, but he never decended to its theoretical 
level, and, of course, he did not live to see it 
in its period of "revisionism," which one of his 
young friends, Eduard Bernstein, who as a 
young Marxian he had much pride in, finally 
helped to drag it. 

Mai*x had spoken of the possibility of a 
peaceful revolution in England and some peo- 
ple sought to enlarge upon his statements. In 
his preface to the first English translation of 
Volume I (November, 1886), Engels writes: 
"Surely at such a moment, the voice ought to 
be heard of a man whose whole theoiy is the 
result of a life-long study of the economic his- 
tory and condition of England, and whom that 
study led to the conclusion that, at least in 
Europe, England is the only countiy where the 

40 Frederick Engels 

inevitable social revolution might be effected 
entirely by peaceful and legal means. He cer- 
tainly never forgot to add that he hardly ex- 
pected the English ruling classes to submit, 
without a *pro-slavery rebellion/ to this peace- 
ful and legal revolution." 

Here Engels is pointing out that, while 
Marx admitted the possibility that there might 
be a peaceful revolution in Britain, he also be- 
lieved that in such an event the ruling classes 
would let loose a counter-revolutionary armed 

In 1891, a new edition of Marx's Civil War 
in France was gotten out. It was the twentieth 
anniversary of the Paris Commune, and Engels 
wrote an introduction for the new edition. lig. 
concludes it with the following statements: 
"In reality, however, the State is nothing 
else than a machine for the oppression of one 
class by another, and indeed no less so in the 
democratic republic than in the monarchy. At 
the best it is an evil inherited by the prole- 
tariat after its victorious struggle for class 
supremacy and whose worst features it will 
have to lop off at once, as the Commune did, 
until such time as a new generation, reared 
under new, free social conditions, will be in a 
position to rid itself of this State rubbish in 
its entirety. Of late the German philistine has 
again been thrown into wholesome paroxisms 


by the expression 'Dictatorship of the Prole- 
tariat/ Well and good, gentlemen, do you want 
to know what this dictatorship of the prole- 
tariat looks like? Then look at the Paris Com- 
mune. That was the Dictatorship of the Pro- 

One might conclude that Engels worked 
night and day and without respite, but while 
he did work hard he also found time for en- 
joyment. He liked the out-of-doors, was a 
good horseman and a good walker, a jovial 
type who liked good company. At his home in 
Regent's Park Road he entertained his friends, 
usually on Sunday evenings. Then relaxation 
was the order of the day, with good food and 
drinks. It was a regular Mecca for rebels and 
refugees of various nationalities. Eduard 
Bernstein, who later abandoned Marxism for 
social-democratic revisionisniy lived in England 
for many years during his exile from his native 
city of Berlin, and he tells us in his My Life 
in Exile about the many happy evenings spent 
in Engel's home, and of the great variety of 
revolutionists who were always welcome, so 
long as they were sincere rebels. 

Visits America 

In 1888, Engels, along with the scientist 
Karl Schorlenmier of Manchester, a friend of 
many years' standing, and Eleanor Marx and 

42 Predekick Engels 

her husband Edward Aveling, made a short 
visit to the United States and Canada. There 
was nothing formal about the visit. It was just 
a sightseeing trip, and to call upon some old 
friends, such as Frederick Sorge and George 
Julian Harney, who had settled on this side 
of the Atlantic. It was the year after the Hay- 
market executions in Chicago. The capitalist 
class and the forces of reaction in general had 
exploited the affair, and the labor movement 
was badly divided and demoralized. 

He still had a number of years of good work 
ahead of him and that time was mostly given 
to the work on Volume III of Capital, During 
those last busy years he wrote a number of in- 
troductions to new editions of Marx's works 
which were appearing in different nations of 
Europe, besides various writings of his own. 
So many requests came for those introductions 
that it was said he was thankful he did not 
know more languages. Occasionally Engels 
had some illness, but in the main he enjoyed 
good health. His fatal illness did not strike 
until the summer of 1895. It was an internal 
cancer. Dr. Victor Adler, the Austrian social 
democrat who had on a number of occasions 
visited Engels in connection with the move- 
ment, and also checked on the state of his 
health; learned of the seriousness of the ill- 
ness. He got time off from a prison sentence 

Frederick Engels 43 

he was serving to visit Engels. In consulta- 
tion with other physicians he soon learned that 
the time of his old friend and comrade was 
short. He had to return two days before 
Engels' death, but the patient had already sunk 
into unconsciousness. Death occurred on Au- 
gust 20, 1895. 

Engels had made the request that his body 
be cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea 
near his favorite holiday resort, Eastbourne. 
He only wanted a few close friends to attend 
his funeral. His wishes were carried out. Less 
than a hundred were present. They included 
Wilhelm Liebknecht, Bernstein, Bebel, La- 
fargue, Kautsky, Lessner and his old friend 
Samuel Moore, the English translator of the 
first volume of Capital. Some labor leaders, 
such as John Burns and Will Thorne were also 
present. The Avelings, Bernstein and a few 
others accompanied the ashes to Eastbome. 

Frederick Engels, because of his modesty 
and high regard for the genius of Marx, de- 
voted his greatest efforts to getting the letter's 
work into print in as many languages as pos- 
sible, and thus held his own work more or less 
in the background. But, with the passing of 
time, its great merit and complimentary char- 
acter, has placed it side by side with, or auxil- 
iary to, the fundamental works of Karl Marx. 

At his death he left an incompleted work of 

44 Frederick Engels 

a highly scientific character which has since 
been published under the title of The Dialec- 
tics of Nature. 

Fifty years have passed since his death, and 
one hundred and twenty-five years since his 
birth, and today his work, like that of Marx, 
is more extensively circulated and appreciated 
than ever. 

This short biographical sketch is not inten- 
ded as a substitute for the reading of the ex- 
cellent larger books written on the life and 
work of this great revolutionary champion of 
the modem proletariat. We simply offer it as 
a sort of introduction with the hope that it 
may reach larger numbers of workers and in- 
duce them to study Marxism, and which, we 
here wish to emphasize, is incomplete without 
a thorough study of the theoretical writings of 
Frederick Engels. 

The Oriitijt^ of the Famiily 


By Frederick EngeU 

The book on which are bated all subsequent works on 
property and the State written by Socialists and Communists. 
What is the Stated How did it arise > Does it represent all 
the propic? Will it ever disappear? What is its function? 
When did Private Property arise? And how? Has the in- 
stitution of the Family changed and evolved? Just now all 
over the world socialists, anarchists, syndicalists and com- 
munists are divided upon the subject of the State, its origin, 
its function and its future. Which group are you in. and do 
you know why? This book explains these vital questions for 
you. Cloth* 2 1 7 pages, 




By Frederick Engels 

When may we expect a proletarian rcvohation? Can we 
plan to have it at a certain time? Can we carry a revo- 
lution by propaganda? Does it depend on what we desire? 
We all want tickets to the New Society of the Workers. How 
can we know how near we are historically? Engels gives us 
the signs in this book. They never fail. When we under- 
stand them we can know how to use social and economic 
forces to carry us forward to the New Day. ^HBHi^BiflB 
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P.O. Box 914, Chicago, 111. 60690 


The Positive Outcome of Phflosophy 

By Josef Dielzgeit 

One of the beat books we have ever published is THE 
many thousands of Josef Dietzgen*s books, and readers every- 
where have testified to their educational value and to the 
enjoyment and enlightenment they obtained from the study 
of Dietxen. 

December 9th, 1928, was the hundredth anniversary of 
the birth of Josef Dietzgen. To commemorate the event we 
published, with the kind assistance of his son, Eugen Dietzgen, 
a new transUtion of THE POSITIVE OUTCOME OF 
PHILOSOPHY. This new translation from the original Ger- 
man is by W. W. Craik, an Englishman, resident of Hamburg. 

Good as our former edition was, we do noit hesitate to 
assert that this translation is immensely superior. It is in 
clear and expressive English, which simplifies the study. Craik 
has certainly done his work well. 

To those who have formerly read the philosophy of Josef 
Dietzgen, it is not necessary to comment upon its merits, but 
to those who have not yet participated in this pleasure we 
wish to give here a brief outline of its content. 

It deals with the nature and substance of thinking. It 
strips the human mind of the mysticism that is usually attached 
to it, and shows the functioning of the brain as a perfectly 
natural process. Just as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels 
traced history and economics along evolutionary lines, to the 
logical conclusion that a new social order is inevitable, so 
Josef Dietzgen traced the evolution of human thought, as 
expressed through philosophy, to its positive outcome. He 
shows that the natural sciences have taken over every branch 
of the old-time philosophy, leaving only the thinking process 
itseH to be explained. This latter he accomplishes in a mas- 
terly fashion in his chapter on "The Nature of Human Brain- 

The Centenary Edition of THE POSITIVE OUTCOME 9F 
PHILOSOPHY is handsomely bound in maroon cloth with 
>ld stam ping and contains a portrait of its famous author, 
postage paid. 


University of